Because each Chinese word is a picture, there is no association between Chinese words and their pronunciation. Pinyin gives each Chinese character its sound.
In 1605 AD, the Jesuit priest Matteo Ricci first used the alphabet to denote the pronunciation of Chinese words.
In 1958 AD, the Chinese linguist Zhou周 You友 Guang光 standardized the pinyin spelling of Chinese characters. He is called the Father of Pinyin.
In 2013, Bob, Larry and I developed the game PinyinPal. It is the first scrabble- like Chinese word game played with letters of the alphabet.
On February 27th, I flew to Beijing to visit the Father of PinYin, Zhou周 You有 Guang光, presented him with an iPad and showed him our game PinyinPal.
Attached is a video memorializing my visit to the 108-year-old `Father of PinYin’.
Video Documentary of Adeline Yen Mah and Zhou Youguang