The standard values come in ranges called E3, E6, E12, E24 etc http://www.radio-electronics.com/info/data/resistor/resistor_standard_values.php
Basically a geometric series with 6, 12, 24 or whatever values per decade. "Standard" resistor values are the E12 series (1k, 1k2, 1k5 etc), for higher precision resistors the E24 and higher ranges are used. Capacitors are often only in E6 or E3 ranges (especially decoupling capacitors).
People often put two resistors in series or parallel to get intermediate values from the E12 values so E24 is seldom used these days (the exceptions being 200, 2k0, 20k0 (especially for R-2R networks) and 51ohm (nearest to 50ohm transmission line).
A little bit of thought should convince that a geometric series is most useful.