The round shape gives you similar advantage to the keyboard being split — your hands are at an angle. Of course the key spacing is insane, and there is no place to rest your wrists, but that could be fixed.
IIRC, most older typewriters used linkages to join keys to the typebar. The franklin on the other hand just has each key on a lever that meshes with geared teeth on the typebar. So I think the layout here is due to the lack of mechanical complexity
The idea of the layout just seems so radical and I see it a bit difficult to use in today’s modern typing climate.
Back in the time of the Franklin, for people buying the Franklin line of typewriters I assume many of them were a bit more hunt & peck than we are today. I can’t even imagine resting my fingers on a ‘home row’ in that layout and how my fingers would feel after needing to constantly reach out to press keys for an hour.
It’s a fun and unique look, but I have my doubts if the layout could be translated into the modern context aside from an homage or a joke.
I’m not so sure about it. Franklin is 1891 - 1907, and at that time we also have Blickensderfer, which uses a “scientifically” optimized keyboard layout (similar to Dvorak) to improve typing speed and a special mechanism to make it possible to press the next key without waiting for the previous key to return back into position, and in 1902 comes up with an electric typewriter, to increase the speed further: