Rummikub was invented by Ephraim Hertzano, a Romanian-born Jew, who immigrated to Israel in the 1940s. He hand-made the first sets with his family in the backyard of his home. Hertzano sold these sets door-to-door and on a consignment basis at small shops. Over the years, the family licensed it to other countries and it became Israel’s #1 export game. In 1977, it became a bestselling game in the United States. The game was marketed as "Rummikid" during part of the 1970s.
Hertzano's Official Rummikub Book, published in 1978, describes three different versions of the game: American, Sabra and International. Modern Rummikub sets include only the Sabra version rules, with no mention of the others, and there are variations in the rules between publishers. The game was first made by Lemada Light Industries Ltd, founded by Hertzano in 1978.
Rummikub is similar to Vatikan, a game of central European origin played with two decks of cards and one joker per player (thus making 106 cards for two players).