So because it wasn't very useful 10 years ago, it must therefore be crap now?
As of OOP, the whole point of OOP is not about speed, it's about modularity and flexibility.
Oh, and for the record, the first programming language I learned was Z80 machine code. In Hex.
Personally, I think Java is a far better place to start because 90% of applications are not speed-centric. Certainly, if you want to judge a language by it's speed then Machine code upwards is the way to go, but that's a pretty archaic viewpoint, almost everyone who works in programming isn't interested in speed, it's only the gaming market that really pushes in that direction, and even then not entirely, most programmers are more concerned about cross-compatability and ease of coding, they don't want to spend months on a project which should take weeks, and in that respect, Java is a very useful language. It has good database access, RMI support, and a good UI interface, the easier it is to put together and maintain an app, the better in almost every every business situation.