Mouse mail may be in your future, now that the post office has approved the first test of postage generated by a personal computer.

"This is the future," Postmaster General Marvin Runyon said Tuesday. "Postage directly from a personal computer."Well, not quite yet. But before long all that licking and sticking could be replaced by clicking.

"The most significant new form of postage payment in three-quarters of a century" was how Runyon described the development at ceremonies at the National Postal Museum. He then clicked a mouse to generate the first computer-generated stamp.

The move toward electronic postage comes 78 years after approval of postage meters and 151 years after the United States issued its first postage stamps.

The system approved for testing was developed by E-Stamp Corp. of Palo Alto, Calif., but other companies are working on similar products, postal officials said.

E-Stamp calls its product SmartStamp, while the Postal Service's official name for the system is "information-based indicia."

The SmartStamp prints out on a regular computer printer as it puts the address on an envelope.

E-Stamp provides a small piece of hardware that fits into a computer port and serves as an electronic vault for stored postage. The customer has an account with the company and can download postage into this vault via the Internet whenever needed, then can print it on envelopes as necessary.