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(equal "a" "a") ==> ()

If you do (LOAD '((LISP) STRING)) you will get a package which implements
strings in MACLISP.  (equal "a" "a") will then return T.  The disadvantage is
that this takes up space, and many applications, such as MACSYMA, are strapped
for space and will take what they can get.  For most applications symbols are
adaquate, and this is what MacLisp defaultly provides.