Depending on whom you ask, David and Charles Koch are either heroes of capitalism and all of its benefits, or greedy corporate fat cats intent on lining their pockets while destroying the environment. Since around the time President Obama was sworn into office, the Koch brothers have been thrust into the political limelight, and the attention has only intensified with the rise of the Tea Party.

But how much do everyday Americans really know about these two and the industry that they've built over the past four decades? While most Americans might only know what they hear from the talking heads from both sides of the political aisle, few know about how the Koch brothers amassed their fortune.

In the following slideshow, we'll look at the history of the family and how they got to be where they are now.

Warren Buffett: This new technology is a "real threat"
It's no secret that Warren Buffett and the Koch brothers have wildly different political ideologies. However, they share one key trait: unprecedented success in the field of business. When they speak about major trends, it's worth listening.

For instance, at the recent Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, Buffett said this emerging technology is threatening his biggest cash cow. While Buffett shakes in his billionaire boots, only a few investors are embracing this new market, which experts say will be worth over $2 trillion. Find out how you can cash in on this technology before the crowd catches on, by jumping on to one company that could get you the biggest piece of the action. Click here to access a free investor alert on the company we're calling the brains behind the technology.

Brian Stoffel owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Berkshire Hathaway. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.