Good questions. Not too many people know this one. It would seem obvious to put the keyboard in alphabetical order wouldn't it. Pierre Kerr, firstname.lastname@example.org gave you this answer.
I looked up your question in a book called Tell Me Why by Arkady Leokum. In it is a question almost exactly the same as yours except that at the time that this book was written, 1977, computers were pretty rare. The typewriter has almost the same layout as a computer keyboard so his answer is still valid. The answer he gives is:
The modern typewriter is a complicated piece of machinery. Development to its present form (remember this book was written in 1977), took many years, and many people contributed to it.
Inventors had been thinking about a machine for writing since early in the 18th century, but it was not until 1867 that the first practical model was built by Christopher Sholes of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Shole's machine was called the Type-Writer. The popularity of typewriters began to grow and changes and improvements kept being introduced all the time.
However, the odd arrangement of the typewriter keys has never been improved. Some designers believe that the keys could be arranged more efficiently but they have not been successful because, it seems, the public is used to the keyboard the way it was and wants no change.
One story that I heard was that Shole actually placed the keys in such a way that people couldn't type quickly since his early Type-Writers had trouble keeping up. There are in fact, several other designs that are used today. One of them, the Dvorak keyboard, tries to put the most frequently used keys in the center. In Canada there are several keyboard layouts that allow the use of french characters. One of them is quite new and was designed by the Federal Government.
I have included pictures of a few keyboard layouts for you.
Thanks for the question and keep on typing.% % filename A031.DOC
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