I had always wondered, but never discovered until today why the keyboard is laid out in this wierd way. It appears that this keyboard layout was designed by Scholes so as to slow typing speed. The initial model has a mechanical problem caused by people typing fast and hence the keybaord was laid out in such a way that our fingers would have to travel maximum distance.
Isn't it stupid that computers use the same layout when no such mechanical problems canever exist?
Read more about this at How Stuff Works and Wikipedia.