I actually don't use any keyword tools aside from Google Trends, but only rarely do I even use that. I try to talk to many of our target audience members (entrepreneurs) as I can. I attend events, I have phone calls, I sit next to them while working. Generally speaking, I think it's a waste of time to START with keyword tools instead of actual customers. Yes, you can target people in broad swaths and get a high level sense for what's interesting and trending, but at least in the case of our business at NextView Ventures, it's way more powerful to talk to actual "customers" you serve.
The local data that is returned is a 12 month average of all search queries in the United States using the Google Search Engine and affiliated Google search properties. Using the sidebar on the left, marketers are easily able to specify the keyword matching type (Broad, Exact, Phrase), change the category, and refine their results to contain specific terms.
As for the history of the company, as I explained, I created Long Tail Pro back in 2011. At the time, I was creating tons of niche sites and was doing alot of keyword research and content creation. I was trying to figure out what types of keywords would rank quickly in the search engines, specifically Google, and I was frustrated with the other keyword research tools (in particular Market Samurai) out there.